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When to Quit Part 2
This second part of three goes into more situations in which you're better off going home than staying at the table. There is no use putting in hours if you can't turn a profit.
Part one went over exhaustion, tilt and excessive distraction - three of the most common ailments to plague a would-be good session.
Although the symptoms in this article are less common, they are no less detrimental to your EV if not dealt with properly.
Lack of Enjoyment
If you're not enjoying your time at the table, you should find something else to do. Either you're going to be able to play high-quality winning poker, or more likely the lack of enjoyment will cause you to play poorly, costing you great money.
Even if you are playing strong and turning a decent profit, you have to ask yourself if it's worth it.
No matter what your talents are, if you don't enjoy what you're doing you should find something else to do. It's always better to be a useless hockey player having the time of your life than a miserable baseball MVP.
In an ideal world, what you're good at would always align with what you enjoy and are passionate about. In the real world, some people aren't so lucky.
For most players who aren't enjoying the game, the reality is they will have little to no chance of making money on the session. If you're miserable, typically you don't care about your actions or results in the moment. The only way you will make money is to fall ass backwards into a setup hand.
All players will experience this: no matter how much you love the game, you'll find yourself at a table or two making yourself miserable.
It could be the game, the players, the room or other aspects of your personal life leaking out at the table. Whatever the reason, when you're not having fun, it's time to find something else to do.
No bleeding is harder to get under control than when you have an artery wide open. With each marginal hand dealt, another spurt of chips bleeds into someone else's stack.
When you're bleeding your chips, you're making mistakes left right and center; maximizing your losses, losing hands you should have won, getting involved in pots you have no reason to be in.
It can be hard to tell when you're bleeding out. Often, poker players convince themselves they're victims of rotten luck rather than mistakes. Only long after most or all their chips have disappeared will they realize they had an artery open.
Bleeding typically starts with the player relaxing her concentration and lowering the overall quality and strength of her game. Most commonly, bleeding starts after the player has accumulated a large mass of chips. Feeling secure and "on a roll," the player will open up, starting to gamble and fool around.
When this new style causes a sizable loss to her stack, the player often tries to overcompensate in an effort to get back to where she was. The more she loses, the more she'll try to compensate, causing still greater losses.
The best cure for a bleeding problem is to take preventative measures. If you practice constant vigilance, and play your top game regardless of your current stack situation, you will never experience a significant bleed.
If you do catch yourself starting to bleed, it's not always as simple as just deciding not to bleed any more. Often the bleed has put you into a form of tilt - the realization of your mistake helps to entrench crappy play. It's rare for a player to be capable of stopping a bleed enough to regroup and rebuild.
A short break is almost certainly required. For some, the only answer is to call it a night.
The Game Dries Up
No matter how well you're playing, how badly you want to play or how good you are feeling while doing it, if there's no money to be made at the table, there's no reason to be at the table.
You can't get blood out of a rock! If the entire table suddenly turns into a card-hot rock garden, you're not going to make any money.
With the entire table playing nothing but the nuts, and hitting nuts often, the only money made at the table will go to the players on the good end of a setup. This turns your session into a complete gamble. You're sitting around folding hands hoping your AA runs into KK and not the other way around.
Even the most profitable games are prone to drying up. The fish lose, and the action-player winners take their money and run. The game is left with decent tight small stacks. No action, no money, no fish, no reason.
When you notice your game dry up, it's time to move on. Find a new table to play at, or if there are no more tables to choose from, go home and come back some other time. You can always find something more fun to do than sitting at a dry table.
One of the advantages to playing online poker is the great table selection. At most limits, especially the lower to moderate limits, there are more tables active at any time than you could hope for. If the one you're on dries up, it only takes a few seconds to grab a seat in a fresh game.
Poker is fun, entertaining, exciting, challenging and (for some) profitable. That being said, if you're a regular player with a previous engagement, or something else worthwhile to do, you should be doing just that.
If you're a regular player playing daily, or multiple times a week, unless the game promises to be a legendary match that will be talked about for the ages, you can always play another day. To be the best poker player you can, you need to achieve a semblance of balance in your life.
I've seen players skipping school, calling in sick to work, standing up dates and even calling taxis to pick up their kids from school, all to stay seated at a poker game.
I'm not talking about the final table of a tournament - I would do any of those things to stay at a major final table. I'm talking about regular cash games that run 24/7/365.
You need to go out and live some sort of life. Become an experienced, well-rounded person if you want to really bring your best game to the table. If you play for a living, you should treat it as just what it is: a job.
People work 40 hours a week; most poker players I know play between 40 and 100. Even working more than the average bear is alright, as long as you don't let your life suffer just to see a few more hands.
The third and final article in this series will go over four more reasons you, as a player, should get up from the table.
Until then enjoy yourself, apply direct pressure to any severe bleeding, keep well hydrated and don't be late.
More strategy articles from Sean Lind: